The Washington Post released a great article about Moana, Disney’s newest princess whose movie will be premiering across the world this November. What stands out about this film is not only will it be Disney’s first Pacific Islander princess, but also the actress voicing Moana is of Pacific Islander decent herself. Auli’i Cravalho is Hawaiian and the voice cast features several other well known actors with Pacific Islander roots, like Dwayne Johnson and Nicole Scherzinger. The article discusses the issues around whitewashing in the world of animation where white actors are cast to do the voice overs for characters that aren’t white, and mentions the hashtag #CartoonsSoWhite. It goes on to criticize a different animated film called Kubo, a Laika production that takes place in Japan with Japanese characters. The film stars household name white actors like Mathew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, and Rooney Mara. While it does feature some actual Japanese actors like George Takei, the article mentions that they were cast in secondary roles who are not focused on as greatly.

What stood out most to me from this article is the last sentence of it: “If animation can’t draw up a cast without an over-reliance on white tints, what chance does the rest of Hollywood have?” Sometimes it’s as if using big celebrity names to draw in crowds gets prioritized over accuracy. Animation is a medium that reaches a wide audience of all ages, are films like Moana are geared specifically towards kids. And because of that, the younger generation can grow up seeing more accurate cultural representation and an animated story that’s not all white characters like the majority of Disney princess films have been (with the exception of Princess and the Frog). Films like Kubo may be setting Hollywood back, but Moana is taking a step in the right direction.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2016/08/25/cartoonssowhite-disneys-moana-points-the-way-forward-for-actor-diversity-in-animated-films/

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3 responses »

  1. jasminerussell13 says:

    This post made me think of one of my favorite Disney movies/shows from when I was a kid: Lilo & Stitch. After looking it up on IMDB, apparently an actress named Daveigh Chase, an American white woman, is the voice of Lilo, a child supposedly from Hawai’i. However, Lilo’s older sister, Nani, is voiced by Tia Carrere, a woman actually from Hawai’i. Although it’s great that Nani is voiced by someone who actually reflects the character’s history, it says something that the lead of the movie is still played by a white woman instead.

  2. maddieglouner says:

    This really made me think about the lack of POC being represented not just in kids movies and shows, but also kids toys. One of the most widely known dolls for young girls, Barbie, has dominated playrooms and media for years. Up until this year Barbie dolls featured a thin, white, blonde doll. However Barbie has a new campaign that was released earlier this year that features dolls in a range of shapes and sizes, but also different races. New dolls have been launched in 23 different skin tones that little girls can identify with their own skin. In such a mainstream white culture of children’s media and toys it’s nice to see a little more diversity coming along, although it is still extremely lacking.

  3. alicecmullin says:

    I was really struck by your comment “Sometimes it’s as if using big celebrity names to draw in crowds gets prioritized over accuracy,” because I feel like that is very accurate in the film industry, even beyond cartoons. I don’t know what it will take to shift that mindset, but it’s nice to see a movie like Moana being created!

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